The Things We Grow

The cold of winter is finally fading here in the Hokianga as the sun sets further south along Niniwā. The tulips we planted have blossomed, our seeds have germinated – lettuce, beans, tomato and onions. We spotted a white puawānanga in the Waipoua canopy, and may have even heard the calls of a Pipiwharauroa. The daikons have taken over the garden and will soon be harvested to make pickled daikon for our pātaka.

It has been a long rainy winter here and we are so excited for spring and summer; the chance to be outside again with our human and more than human friends. We’ve been gardening at the Kokohuia kaumatua flats for the last nine months tending to the soil, removing invasive weeds, cutting back trees and planting seedlings. Truthfully though this has been my worst growing season to date, which has been a surprise given the warm Far North weather. But the army worms set in last summer with the humid weather, eating everything in sight and by autumn the constant rain, and lack of light in our māra made it difficult to get anything to grow.

But, whenever we are out in the garden, the kaumātua would come out and ask what we were up to. The local dog would greet us with a few barks. The older cuzzy would come down with a thoughtful gift or kōrero, and the younger cuzzies down the road would see our car and run after us to the māra. We hadn’t managed to grow all that much, just a beautiful little community situated around our struggling garden beds. This little community has really been our saving grace here over the last six months as we adjust to the remoteness of rural living and rainy weather.

It has been a beautiful lesson in observation to understand that we may end up growing the things we need, before the things we necessarily want. Heoi anō, we are so grateful for the little garden we are tending, and the community it has tended with us. And hopefully, with a little kai growing over the spring and summer seasons, the whanaungatanga will be all the more sweet.

If you have Instagram, check out our video for our iron week campaign in which Haylee harvested Daikons from our Kokohuia māra.